DRAFT PICKS: Cures for what ales your brew-reading woes

There’s a lot of good reading “out there” that can add tremendously to the joy of beer drinking.

I love it. Not at all unlike travelogues or cooking books, I enjoy a good read discussing different aspects of the art and science of beer.

I have never lived in Tuscany, but I have read a lot about that part of the world.

I’ve never been to lunch with Anthony Bourdain, but I have read a couple of his foodie books and feel I could probably enjoy a meal in his company.

I have never brewed a single bottle of beer (yet), but I’ve read a lot about it and have thoroughly enjoyed the adventure as described by others.

I’ve enjoyed learning about the process of brewing.

I’ve been able to “visit” breweries all over the globe. I’ve learned a lot of tricks that go into turning out a good lager, or a creamy ale.

It’s been an adventure, and reading has helped me become very discerning in my beer tasting and sampling experiences.

I most enthusiastically suggest you read, read and read some more.

Reading about the art of brewing is not only educational and informational ... it’s fun.

If you pick up some background knowledge, the next time you’re sipping a quiet ale you’ll be better able to distinguish the fine details that go into a great brew.

Sure. There is a real need to taste, compare, and taste some more, but reading can simply add to the general fun of the whole experience.

Keeping that in mind, following is just a sampling of some of the great reading material there is on the market.

Beer: Tap Into the Art and Science of Brewing

Charles Bamforth

Bamforth is one of the most knowledgeable beer mavens in the U.S. today. His style of writing is comfortable and even when he gets technical, it is still a very enjoyable read. This book includes new sections on beer in relation to food, contrasting attitudes towards beer in Europe and America, how beer is marketed, distributed and retailed in the U.S., and much, much more.


Michael Jackson 

Jackson is one of the guys most quoted when it comes to discussing the fine points of beer — from production to tasting, and everything in between.

He always supplies an interesting afternoon of commentary.

Beer: Domestic, Imported, and Home Brewed

Eve Adamson 

According to the plug, this “comprehensive, easy-to-use guide to the world of beer provides a listing with ratings of available brews, along with helpful advice on how to distinguish the various types and grades of beer, imported versus domestic beers ...and much more.” Truth be known, I haven’t read this yet, but it is next on my list.

Beer School: Bottling Success at the Brooklyn Brewery

Steve Hindy, Tom Potter,

Michael R. Bloomberg

Beer School is described as “a useful and entertaining book.” In short, it is an account of folks starting a beer business — from brewery to pub — in New York City. I’ve actually been to the Brooklyn Brewery. This is a fun read.

Beer: A Quality Perspective

Charles W. Bamforth,

Inge Russell, Graham Stewart

This book is a little more technical, but with the Bamforth name on the front cover you can be sure it is not overpoweringly dry. This volume offers a discussion of research into the wide range of quality attributes of beer.

Beer in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Richard W. Unger

We must have a little history, otherwise folks will think beer production began in St. Louis! This really is a fascinating book that tells a great story and will have you saying, “Wow! Really!” I love history, and I love good beer. Here — in a sense — is a combination of the two.

Beer: A Cookbook: Good Food Made Better with Beer: Recipes

Kimberley Willis 

I cook a lot with beer. Generally the darker offerings. In soups and stews, you can’t beat the hearty addition of a good brew to the crockpot.

There are a lot of exciting recipes here. C’mon!!! Give it a try.

And by the way, food cooked with beer can be served to minors. The cooking process eliminates any alcohol content and leaves only the deep, smoky taste.

And there is much, much more.

Check out the catalogs. There are a ton of books being written and published all the time as beer home-brewing and beer appreciation grows.

Readers will find the genre both enlightening and entertaining.

Oarsman Ale

Bell’s Brewing



Oarsman Ale is a nice, thick yellow brew leaning toward light to medium honey color.

There is little head despite enthusiastic, and well aimed pouring. This brew is thick and hazy, and is actually very inviting.

Oarsman is a good looking offering that displays an eager attitude.

It is sweet at first sniff. There isn’t a determined maltiness, but the balance of hops with the malts is obvious in its mild fruitiness. If there is a specific scent of hops, it is tucked away and one can’t really be too sure. There is a slight - very slight - smell of bready yeast. Not at all a bad thing and quite refreshing.

At first taste, there is a zesty, energetic surge. This ale races around the mouth and you’ll be hard pressed to judge taste on the first go-around.

Take another sip and start again!

Quite peppy. Certainly holds hints of fruits, but that is contrasted by a somewhat metallic pinch. This ale doesn’t suggest anything. It’s right up front, in your face, but not in a malty, more ‘traditional’ ale manner.

Oarsman starts off rather sweet but ends on a dry note with an almost sharp aftertaste.

Not bad.

Don’t get me wrong. If you’re looking for caramels and deep grains, look elsewhere.

Having said that, this is very refreshing, best served moderately chilled. Probably nicer a little less cold than most folks think to keep their beer.

Because of its mild acidity, this ale would most likely complement a heavier meat dish - roast beef or a good sized steak.

Lighthouse Amber Altbier

Cheboygan Brewing Company


The bottle claims this brew is “deep ruby.” I’d suggest something more like an almost dark, cidery brown. It’s a good color for an amber - strong and smoky.

There is little head and what there is dissipates quickly. This sometimes can be an indication of a weak grain list, but not in this case.

As noted, this amber is “smoky” - a little hazy, defiantly opaque.

It’s a nice looking brew. Generally speaking, Lighthouse presents itself like an old world draught.

There is a nice bouquet of malts backed up with a little yeastiness.

Not a lot of out-front hops, but you know they are there because of a mild floral fruitiness. (Get your nose in there. Search!)

There are hints of a sweet nuttiness — hazelnut maybe? There is definitely ‘something’ attractive that really draws you in.

After finishing a serious sniffing session, and finding some really fruity scents, the amber reveals itself as surprisingly dry - that is to say, not sweet or especially fruity.

The taste leans toward the more traditional, heavily roasted malts.

It offers a burst of effervescence at the start, tickles the throat, and then disappears quite quickly.

This altbier is subtle. It’s an individual - no copy, and no copying.

Lighthouse is refreshing, tingly, and full-bodied, but not what you might probably expect.

That is always a good thing.

Lighthouse is a nice altbier, and an easy recommendation for those looking for a dark beer without having to deal with too complex an ale.

I’ll certainly get more for the summer.